#FM17 | Hartlepool United | The Triumph of the Pass | Introduction


Recently, I’ve been reading a lot.

Reading Jonathan Wilson’s revised and updated Inverting the Pyramid. Reading Marti Perarnau’s Pep Confidential. Reading Chris Anderson & David Sally’s The Numbers Game.

And, reading lots, and lots, and lots of posts from the #wearethecommunity tag on twitter.

All of these sources have inspired and challenged me in terms of how I understand football, and how I understand Football Manager.

For a few years, I’ve been a bit of a lurker. I listen to The Deep Lying Podcast with a regularity that I’d rather my girlfriend didn’t know about. I read posts from wonderful writers from the FM community (I’d name them – but I’m guessing you already have some idea of whom I’m talking about…) and I take inspiration and tactical ideas presented by these people (and real life situations – Antonio Conte is, well, yes. He’s good, aint he?!) and apply them to FM. Without sharing anything.

For a little while, I’ve been thinking about changing that. And then, FM Slack came around. And it seemed like a perfect time to start…

So, the project (and make no mistake, a project this is going to be…)

Hartlepool United & The Triumph of the Pass…

So, there are four inspirations to this save, each taken roughly from the sources listed above;

  1. Lower League Management – taken from the FM Community
  2. Moneyball – taken from The Numbers Game, and Alex Stewarts work
  3. Bayern Munich’s Three Phase Evolution – from Pep Confidential
  4. The Triumph of the Pass – from Inverting the Pyramid

Lower League Management

I’ve never done a LLM save before. It’s too hard. Too much of a time commitment, I don’t know the teams as well as I know Championship & Premier League teams, I don’t know the league & cup rules. I don’t know the players. It’s hard going. It’s a challenge.

I’ve been inspired, though, by the FM community.

I want to find a club to build in my own image, to mould and shape. (This ties into the Three Phase Evolution plan which I’ll go into in a second…) I want to feel the weight of financial restrictions. I want every decision I make to have an impact. I want every scout assignment, every tactical tweak, every team talk and every signing, to mean something.

Money Ball

You’ve probably read Alex Stewart’s writing on this, and maybe you’re reading his current save with Rangers vs Iain Mackintosh. Essentially, I’m going to nick all of the Moneyball principles he lays out here, however, I’m not going to strictly adhere to his rules.  I’m going to take them as guidelines and concepts, rather than strict policies.  The Three Phase Evolution & Triumph of the Pass aspects of this save will require a very specific type of player, with very specific technical attributes – and I’d like to have the freedom to go out and get them – I’d like a little freedom, essentially.

The Triumph of the Pass

There’s a chapter in Inverting the Pyramid called The Triumph of the Pass. It looks very specifically at Guardiola’s Barcelona’s team, and the all-conquering Spanish national team of the late 00’s. It looks at how possession football works as an attacking and defensive philosophy.

It’s said that there are two types of football. You can choose to have the ball, or choose not to have the ball. Both work. As Leicester showed last season, not having the ball can be brutally, horribly effective.

But that’s not how I like to play.

I’m going to implement possession football at Hartlepool. Watch me. The way I implement it however, is going to take time, and I don’t think I’ll do it instantly… This ties in very tightly with the next section

Three Phase Evolution

Chapter 4 in Pep Confidential explains three phases of transition the club had gone through. As I understand them;

Phase 1: Louis Van Gaal: Laying down the principles & building the squad for fixed position possession based football.

Phase 2: Jupp Heynckes: Maintain fixed position possession football, but add speed, and increase attacking play.

Phase 3: Pep Guardiola: Introduce fluid position, attacking, possession football.

It’s very clear in this, how the clubs philosophy has been built. Van Gaal laying the foundations, Heynckes adding attacking intent (and dare I say German intensity?) and Guardiola implementing fluidity.

It’s my belief that Guardiola wouldn’t have been so successful without the foundations laid down by LVG. I love Pep, and I do think he’s a genius tactician, but isn’t it fascinating that he’s struggling to lay down his philosophy at City – a club who haven’t spent the last years playing possession football. Guardiola is going to need to implement Phase’s One, Two and Three himself…

I’m going to adopt this three-phase philosophy – tweaked, because I’m Hartlepool.

Phase One is going to be about getting out of League 2, and bringing in players who are able to maintain possession of the football. The players I have at HP at the moment, are not going to be able to keep the ball (as you will see in a future post when I look at my squad…)

Phase Two is going to be about moving up through the leagues, and developing the possession football style. By the end of Phase 2, I will be a Premier League Club.

Phase Three is going to be about consolidating in the PL, and essentially, trying to win it with the philosophy I’ve developed at the club. By this point, the club should have a wonderful Youth Set-Up…


I should say, too, that it should be taken for granted that developing Hartlepool’s Youth Team is going to be a key part of this save, and will be at the forefront of what we do.

Thanks for taking the time to read.


P.S. As will become apparent in future posts, I absolutely do not consider myself “Good” at FM. Any thoughts, comments, advice and suggestions are more than welcome, and will be warmly received…



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